The Lakewood Arts Council has always included not only an emphasis on visual arts, but also emphasized the importance of literary, musical and performance art as well. Previously in the quarterly FOCUS magazine, book reviews fulfilled that literary category. With the transition to electronic delivery, changes have taken place, and for those of you interested in reading my opinion of recent readings, you may find them here on the blog. And as always, I encourage any readers to submit a book review of your own for publication, and would welcome any creative writing to be posted on this blog! Just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's a review of a couple of books I read back in 2014:
The 13 Clocks by James Thurber
I requested “The 13 Clocks” from the library because I read that Neil Gaiman, author of “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”, whose books I’ve enjoyed, considers it one of his favorite books and “required reading”. It took a long time on hold at the library to finally get to me.
A short story, one may call it a fairy tale, or a tale of horror, or a comedy, or the hero’s quest. It is all these things. But mostly, according to Neil Gaiman, it is a story that the author, James Thurber, thoroughly enjoyed writing. This is evident by the amount of wordplay contained in the story: the words fall in and out of poetic rhyme, humorous passages also contain an element of horror and made-up words that are fun to pronounce.
“The 13 Clocks” is about an evil Duke living in a castle with a captive princess. Only a suitor who can restart the stopped clocks can win the hand of the princess, or be fed to the geese. If you enjoy a funny fairy tale, and delight in the craft of the written word, take time to read “The 13 Clocks”.
Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
Eight short stories make up this collection by Karen Russell, not all about Vampires, but all seem to incorporate a theme of metamorphosis. In the title story, humans morph into bats and satisfy their abnormal cravings by sucking on lemons in the lemon grove. Young Japanese girls work in the silk factories by actually transforming into silkworms in “Reeling for the Empire” and in “The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis”, the discovery of a scarecrow by Eric’s tormentors scares more than just crows. Is the scarecrow really Eric or just a cruel joke? It works its magic in effecting a change of heart in a teenage boy.
Descriptively written, fantastical and thought-provoking, these stories make one wonder about their own transformations. In “The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979”, Nal considers fate: “If fate was just a tapestry with a shifting design –some fraying skein that the gulls were tearing right this second – then Nal didn’t see why he couldn’t also find a loose thread, and pull."